I’m trying to stay focused on positive things these days. Things that inspire me to do better, to be better. Here are a few of those things.

First has to be my daughter’s newly-expanded family. Her and Greg’s new son Jessamine, born during the pandemic, is healthy, cute and makes everyone smile. That’s him (obviously) in the featured photo above. The fact that they’re all healthy and happy during this weird time is inspirational. I’m thankful for that.

Next is the latest Bruce Springsteen recording, Western Stars. Especially the movie version. This is the Springsteen I remember, a poet, a consummate musician and someone who pours his soul out in his craft. At age 70 he’s as good as he was at 20 – he looks strong and his voice is rounded out with experience. Bruce isn’t everyone’s cuppa tea, but he’s been a constant for me through the years. I saw Bruce and the East Street Band on April 2nd, 1976, up close and personal in the tiny Macauley Theater in Louisville KY. My buddies and I traveled from college in Lexington to big-city Louisville in my tiny Toyota pickup truck, two of them riding in the truck bed. The concert was part of the Born to Run tour and was unforgettable. Four hours of absolute power pouring off the stage. I was unlucky in one respect –  every concert I saw after that suffered by comparison. So yeah, seeing Bruce knock one out of the park in 2020 with Western Stars is an inspiration. I watched it once all the way through, in awe, and now I’m watching it again a little at a time.

Then there’s Masterclass. Emily and I decided to split a 2-for-1 deal on an unlimited Masterclass subscription, and it has been great. I’ve finished a writing class by James Patterson, the world’s best-selling author. He’s interesting – he’s not so much an author as the creator of a writing factory and brand. Not inspirational, but interesting and definitely credible with his advice. But my current course, taught by Neil Gaiman, is truly inspirational. Gaiman has that soft-spoken Scottish-British accent thing going for him, and his passion and delight at talking about writing just shines through. He’s a natural in front of the camera – you could swear he’s talking directly to you. I just love hearing and watching him talk about writing. I don’t know if his class will make me a better writer, but it sure makes me want to be a better writer. That’s something.